US manufacturing contracts for third straight month

WASHINGTON — U.S. manufacturing output dropped for the third straight month in October as trade tensions and a slowing global economy took a toll on American factories.

The Institute for Supply Management, an association of purchasing managers, said Friday that its manufacturing index blipped up to 48.3 last month from 47.8 in September. But anything below 50 signals a contraction and manufacturing has been on a three-month losing streak.

New orders, production and hiring all contracted. But export orders increased in October after falling in September.

Twelve of 18 manufacturing industries contracted in October, led by primary metals, clothing and textile mills.

President Donald Trump’s trade war with China and conflicts with other trading partners have created uncertainty for manufacturers. They have delayed purchases and investments because they don’t know whether or when Trump will lift taxes on imports and which countries he might target next.

Also Friday, the Labor Department reported that the United States shed manufacturing 41,000 jobs in October — though that loss reflected a strike at General Motors.

Despite the manufacturing slump, the U.S. economy continues to grow, supported by a relatively healthy services sector and healthy consumer spending. Services firms added 157,00 jobs last month.

Paul Wiseman, The Associated Press